Dreadbox Dysphonia - DIY Build
As the summer months begin to subside and the fall weather moves in, we found ourselves going through our extensive list of kits to finally run across a kit we totally forgot about. Made by Dreadbox, the Dysphonia was billed as a single run, limited edition Full Voice Synthesizer
with Open Architecture.
Being that we have a soft spot for Dreadbox’s limited edition synths, we decided to take this build on as our first build of the fall. At 42hp, the Dreadbox Dysphonia is a little beast with patching in mind. We pulled the kit down from the shelf and jumped right in.
The kit (currently sold out) consists of a lot of jacks (x46), some slide pots (x8), regular pots (x13) and a few other odds and ends. It is a quick and easy build but it requires some patience when working with the jacks. As tedious as it is to place and solder these, it is apart of the process.
Thankfully, Dreadbox supplied the builder with this complete assembly guide to help you through the process.
The Build ...
Start off by flipping over the logic board and soldering the power header to the back of the PCB. Then, cut the excess wires from the pre-assembled trimmers and remove the extra PCB from the top and bottom side of the board.
The kit has the option to be a desktop unit by installing a PCB power board. We built the board and set it aside (assembly instructions are in the guide). Let’s move onto the control/top board.
The Control Board
First off, remove the excess PCB on the top and bottom margins of the board. You can discard these as they are not required for the build. Locate the 46 jacks and begin placing them in their rightful locations. As you place these, you might find that tacking one pin down on the top will help keep them in their place as you move forward. Once they are all set, tack everything down and move onto the push buttons.
Dreadbox Dysphonia - Time Lapse Build
When placing the push buttons (x2), keep in mind that polarity matters. To figure out their polarity, check their bottom side. The “+” sign should match the square pad on the PCB. Once you are sure regarding their orientation, push them firmly down to their position.
WARNING!: If the button is not pushed correctly, it will touch the aluminum panel and this will not allow it to rest to its OFF position – or it will not be able to be aligned correctly to the whole of the panel.
Dreadbox Dysphonia - Build Gallery
The next step is to solder the slider potentiometers. These can be tricky but we have found that if you place the pot and then carefully bend one of their legs on the backside of their mounting holes, it helps keep them in place when soldering everything down.
The easiest thing to do is to just solder everything from the top down. Being that you just placed the 46 jacks, it can get tight when you solder from the top down. As mentioned previously, just tack one pin down and then flip the board over to finish.
Rotary Potentiometers and Header Pins
Next up is the regular pots. These will click into place when you mount them, but double check their alignment prior to soldering them into place. Again, you can mount, flip and gently bend a pin if you need to (you shouldn’t have to do that). When these are complete, move onto the header pins to bring the two boards together.
Locate the 3x female 20pin headers and place them atop the male header pins. Gently set the control board on top of the power board and solder everything into place, ensuring it is all straight. You might have to wiggle things a bit to get them to line up, but no worries, it is designed to fit. When you are done with these, it is time to marry the boards together and complete the build.
Wrapping it all up…
Finally we get to connect everything together and start patching. Locate the plastic spacers and their counterparts. You will place the x12 white plastic spacers on the top and bottom of the control board. Line the bottom of these up with the correct position on the logic board and then use x6 (15mm) spacers to marry the boards. When this is complete, it is time to place the front panel.
Panel placement is quick and easy. You will use the x6 black hex screws to hold everything into place. If you have any soldering issues or alignment issues, this is where you will find out! After placing the hex screws, it is time to check, tune and calibrate (calibration instructions are found in the assembly guide provided by Dreadbox).
Dreadbox Dysphonia ... Our Final Thoughts
We love Dreadbox Synths… especially limited edition ones. This stand alone desktop or eurorack synth is a patchers heaven as Dreadbox states. The Dysphonia is a simple build with little skill required to complete it. The synth itself is a simple to jump right in and patch something synth. We opted to mount the module in our rack and patch through it using more as a filter and direct sound source. (I haven’t had a lot of time with it due to vacations and being a parent).
Since these kits are limited run, the Dreadbox site states that they are sold out, but you might be able to find one with some luck. Reverb is a great resource as well as Modular Grid or modwiggler (oh and don’t forget EBAY).